Goals serve as our guide for success. When we have goals in life, we can tell if we have made progress or accomplished things. It gives us something to work toward in our life. In rehab, having goals in place can make a great difference in the process of recovery, because it keeps you motivated, focused, in control, and accountable for your actions. It can also increase your self-esteem and encourage personal growth. You may find it easy to say, “I want to get clean and sober,” but there are a few basic principles that you should take into consideration during the process of setting your recovery goals. Recovery is a long and tough journey. You need guides that will keep you on the right track and moving toward your sober destination.

The goal-setting process starts by thinking ahead and imagining where you want to be or how you want to see yourself in the next five years or so. These are your major, long-term goals in life. Let’s say you want to be a professional in your chosen field – a doctor, athlete, musician etc.

Next, you need to break this long term goal into a few essential steps; these are called mid-range goals. You might want to go back to college, continuously attend a recovery program, get financially stable, or make amends with people who have been affected by your substance abuse. Finally, break these mid-range goals into smaller steps that are specific and measurable. You can start doing volunteer work in your community or university, gain skills for the job you want, or reestablish communication with your family and old friends.

To further increase your chances of achieving your recovery goals, the application of the SMART framework can be helpful. It defines your goals specifically, and keeps track of those you’ve achieved, and those you’re still working towards. Jumbled thoughts in your head won’t help; you must define, outline, and write it down. On a piece of paper, write the letters S.M.A.R.T. vertically in the left margin, then proceed to outline your goals according to the framework. SMART stands for:

When we strive to become
better than we are,
everything around us
becomes better too.

– Paulo Coelho

  • Specific – Your goal needs to be clear and specific so it has a greater chance of being accomplished than general goals.
  • Measurable – Make concrete criteria to measure your progress. This will keep you on track in reaching your target dates.
  • Achievable – Goals should be realistic and attainable. You can figure out ways to make them come true by developing your aptitudes and skills.
  • Relevant – There should be a strong reason why you want to achieve each of your goals.
  • Time Sensitive – Setting a timeframe will help keep your goals grounded, and increases the likelihood of their being specific and measurable, and thus attainable.